***MULTIMEDIA PACKAGE*** Assembly Democrats in Support of Raising the Minimum Wage

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(TRENTON) — Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex), Assembly Deputy Speaker John S. Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), Assembly Majority Conference Leader Gordon M. Johnson (D-Bergen), Assembly Budget Committee Chair Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) and Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer (D-Essex) issued a multimedia package Thursday in support of Democratically sponsored legislation to increase New Jersey’s minimum wage.

Speaker Oliver, during the Assembly reorganization ceremony in January, announced increasing the minimum wage — which is now $7.25 per hour — would be a Democratic priority this legislative session.

The bill (A-2162) specifically increases New Jersey’s hourly minimum wage rate to $8.50 on July 1, 2012 and then requires that, starting in calendar year 2013, the minimum wage be adjusted annually based on any increase in the Consumer Price Index, with the adjustment taking effect on July 1 of each year.

It was approved May 24 by the General Assembly by a vote of 46-33.

The multimedia package consists of a video of Assembly Democrats voicing their support for raising the minimum wage and audio and a transcript of same.

The video can be accessed directly via our website — www.assemblydems.com — or by clicking here.

The audio file is available upon request.

A transcript of comments from Assembly Democrats is appended below:

Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex):
“The current minimum wage in this state is $7.25 an hour, which is roughly $300 a week. Our current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour represents earnings below the federal guideline which defines poverty.

“In New Jersey, no one can sustain and exist on a salary that low.

“This bill proposes to raise the minimum wage in New Jersey to $8.50 an hour.”

Assembly Majority Conference Leader Gordon M. Johnson (D-Bergen):
“Well, we all recognize that the cost of living in the State of New Jersey is higher than in most parts of the country. This is an opportunity for us, as elected officials, to improve the living conditions of those making minimum wage, so they can feed their families, buy clothes, pay their rent.”

Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer (D-Essex):
“Most people who are earning minimum wage are women. And they are not just in urban areas; they are across the State of New Jersey. And these women are, more than likely, the head of a household that includes more than two other individuals.”

Assemblyman Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson), Assembly Budget Committee Chair:
“An extra $1.25 an hour could mean a lot to people that are really struggling out there for, you know, putting food on the table; clothes; to make sure their kids are able to buy the things they need to for school.

“So, it’s so important. It’ll actually put more money into the system.”

Assembly Deputy Speaker John S. Wisniewski (D-Essex):
“The best way that we can improve our economy is making sure that people are taking home more money.

“We’re not going to improve the economy simply by providing tax cuts; we’re not going to improve the economy by helping hedge funds. We’re going to improve the economy by making sure people are taking home more money because when people take home more money they spend it on things that are essential to their lives. They spend it on groceries, they stop and buy a tank of gas, they go to the local restaurant, and the list goes on and on. And all of those things employ people and help our economy even further.

“So, if we can do one singular act in the Legislature to improve New Jersey’s economic standing, to increase jobs — to increase jobs — we should improve and increase the minimum wage as we have just done.”

Oliver:
“So, I believe that the elevation of the minimum wage is an economic stimulus for this state; it immediately puts additional money in the hands of families that need it the most; and it is the right thing to do.”